• Green fuse

    Bud burst is nearly upon us. Hawthorn and Elders in the hedges and Willows on the Common are all showing the emergent tips of fresh leaves. Ash trees on the railway line are also starting to stir, but they tend to take a long time – obviously not in a hurry in their annual race with the Oaks. The poet Larkin compared this emergent stage to “something almost being said” and you do get the feeling of Spring being on the verge of a new stage.

    Lent lilies at Brampton Church

    In the Churchyard, the Daffodils (or Lent Lilies) are absolutely at their peak, just in time to welcome everybody for this evenings Spring choral concert. Outside the Church workmen are digging up the road in a perhaps less welcome sign of the season.

  • Spring arrivals

    After a week of Spring weather the Cherries around the village have sprung into blossom.

    Along the river, some summer migrants have arrived and started to announce themselves. A Chiff-Chaff Warbler was singing this morning – the clue for the sound of it’s song is in it’s name. This song tends to get grating in it’s monotony into April, but in mid March it sounds foreign, new and slightly exotic. The birds probably arrived over the last ten days or so; I heard one practising on 6th March, but this mornings songster was well into his stride.

    Another bird which has a touch of the south about it was present on the marsh, a single white Little Egret was fishing in the margins of the Bure. This visit in Spring has become regular in the past few years; I can remember when the mere site of one caused excitement on the Norfolk Coast. There is possibly a nesting site on a nearby Broad. This small Heron is pure white and a relatively agile flier when compare to the native Harnser.

  • Daws at dawn

    Just after dawn on Sunday, it was the calls of Jackdaws rather than the a song bird chorus which rang through the village. They favour the dead Elm at the top of the hill, which must stand out to them as a landmark once they have left the roosts at Oxnead. The Jackdaws accompany the slower and more direct flight of Rooks as they stream westwards. The exodus starting as soon as light levels permit, earlier and earlier each morning. As a species the Jackdaw seems to revel in flight, something to be enjoyed rather than just a method of getting there. Their gathering at the Elm being their equivalent of the bikers meeting at a favourite cafe.

  • Low flow

    This morning the Bure sits high in her banks. This is thanks to the Mill and lock operators who are helpfully holding up the flow in order to preserve the limited resource.  According to Dr Briscoe’s weather recordings (http://www.buxton-norfolk.co.uk/weather.htm ) we have had only 7 inches worth out of an average of 12 inches of rainfall for the period from October to February inclusive. In other words we are 32% below average. Without some retention of flow or some pumped supply from groundwater reserves, the river would be a mere stream at best.

    The other bad news for the Bure and in particular it’s fish stocks is the growing population of Cormorants. Last year numbers of visiting birds were particularly high. If they really do eat a pound of fish per day as we are told, I suspect that  fish numbers in the Bure were damaged considerably.

  • Iron frost and duck

    We woke up to an iron frost. As we walked out on the Common, the Bure was alive with wild duck. So many in fact that the book of collective nouns was taken off the shelf. A “spring” of Teal above Oxnead Bridge are as good as their word and take off with near vertical suddenness, only to alight again 50 yards further away. A little further upstream the frosty silence is gently broken by haunting cries announced small herd of Curlew at the top of Limekiln Farm. Further still, at least a score of duck wheeled around the Island Marsh – these proved to be Wigeon. Wigeon cause delight in their nouns; a bunch or a coil or a knob, all seem to sum them up beautifully. They circle at low levels before quickly settling below Burgh Mill.

  • A view in Winter

    Wigeon arrive on the marsh as the village slumbers in it’s blanket of snow. A small flock of these fast-flying duck circle us as we scan the riverside snow for footprints. The meandering trail of a morning fox provided evidence of his thoughts – out for an unsuspecting Moorhen or duck – the trail followed any little clue to and fro to the water’s edge.  Smaller creatures, mostly voles, scurried their tubby ways from sedge to bolthole. Swans which looked so white under normal conditions reveal themselves to be a rich cream against the backdrop of snow covered marshes. Snipe are here in numbers; they spring away and follow crazy
    zig-zag flight patterns emitting their wispy call. As we open the Church for Sunday a Woodcock flies rapidly at head-height  through the churchyard, full of bombast and intent.

  • The Isle is full of noises

    At sunrise on Sunday morning the river and woods swirled with mists and vapours. The temperature veered wildly as we walked along the Bure towards the Common.  The Keeper’s Wood resounded with an unworldly noise. The calls of a dog Fox and Vixen rang around the marsh – presumably engaged in creating the next generation.  We dispelled thoughts of the Sherlock’s Grimpen Mire and carried on. The light changing continuously from mist to translucence within a few yards, then eventually settling into what passes for normal at this time of year. It was a morning that JMW Turner would have appreciated.

  • First 2012 frost

    A fine frosty morning, in fact the first real frost of this year so far; grasses on the Common carrying a delicate filigree of ice. Almost too fine and delicate to consider walking on. The Bure flows slowly through the beds of reed and cress, calm and unsullied by any waterfowl. The occasional Snipe wisps org from the margins with its strange stuttering alarm call, it’s delicate feather pattern seems crisp and etched in the clear cold light. The scent of a prowling fox hangs by the river.

  • Fleeing Grebe

    Dabchicks flee as soon as we approach. Flight is perhaps the wrong word, as they never try to get airborne; instead they propel themselves along the surface of the water in a whir of wing beats and skittering feet until they feel safe enough to dive and find underwater shelter in the bank side weeds. Once there they hide until they can be certain of your passing – preferably at least thirty yards away. You can rarely see them as you glance back towards their hiding place. Aquatic hide and no seek.

  • Mermaid River finches

    Finches flock along the Bure on a frosty morning. Goldfinches working hard on the river side Alders, but no sign of any Linnets so far. In fact thinking about the Brampton finch population the Linnets have declined but Goldfinches, Greenfinches and Bullfinches seem to be doing very well. The riverside Goldfinch flock was ten strong. In the garden similar numbers of Greenfinches form raiding parties on the feeders. The Bullfinches are more elusive but are common in their favoured haunts along the railway line and in the allotment hedgerows.

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